Governor Greg Abbott says until the Federal Government steps up, the state of Texas must continue to send resources down south to secure the Texas-Mexico border.
“The Obama administration has pretty much given up,” Governor Abbott said Wednesday. His remarks come one day after Lt. Governor Dan Patrick toured what’s known at the ‘Rio Grande Sector’ on Tuesday.
The roughly 40-mile stretch of the Texas-Mexico border is a popular place for people to cross into the U.S. illegally.
The Rio Grande Sector is located near the Rio Grande and not far from U.S. Route 83.
That’s why it’s a poplar point to cross the border–lined with dense woods, once people make it across the river and to the highway, it’s easy to disappear.
“We continue to see a dramatic influx in people who are coming across the border illegally,” said Abbott.
When asked what he learned from the Lt. Governor’s trip, Abbott said, “It confirms what I have seen on the border, it confirms the reason why we invested in border security in the first place.”
State lawmakers approved $800 million be spent to help secure the Texas-Mexico over the course of two years. The money was made available in September and now, Abbott said plans have been put into action.
The Lt. Governor went down to the border to see what the state paid for, like the new cameras that are hidden in trees and snap photos from up in the sky.
Boots on the ground, boats in the water, and planes in the air—that’s how the officers with the state’s Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers patrol the border along the Rio Grande Sector
According to Lt. Governor Patrick, 63,000 people were apprehended and $1.2 billion worth of drugs were confiscated in the last year.
“That wasn’t happening before,” Patrick said the statistics show the state must continue its investment along the border and Governor Abbott agreed.
“Unless and until the federal government does its job top secure the border, Texas must continue to allocate the resources that are needed,” Abbott said.
Texas Democrats have and continue to criticize the move to spend state money on the border, they say it’s the Federal Government’s responsibility.
“We have a President who is doing nothing to secure the border to enforce the immigration laws,” Abbott said, “Barack Obama is sending the message ‘come on in’ to everybody.” That’s why Abbott said the next U.S. President must “uphold the rule of law on secure the border.”
Whether or not that means building a wall along the Texas-Mexico border, Abbott said that’s up for the next President to decide.
The Republican Governor endorsed his friend and fellow Texan, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz for President.
The party’s front-runner, Donald Trump is also in favor building of a border wall to slow the flow of illegal immigrants entering the U.S.
At the GOP debate in Nov. 2015, Cruz said, “We will triple the border patrol, we will build a wall that works, and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.” Trump said he will make Mexico pay for the wall.
Once the border is secure, Abbott said he wants the state of Texas to get paid, reimbursed the $800 million the state put toward border security. That’s something he said he’ll insist the next U.S. President does, “To reimburse the state of Texas for the cost that we’ve come out of pocket on to do the Federal Government’s job.”
Border security remains a top priority for Abbott and it also leads to another issue that will be a major priority in the next legislative session. Abbott said, “It is time for Texas to have a law that bands sanctuary cities, we need to do all we can to staunch the flow of illegal immigration into the state of Texas.”
Texas will continue to take matters into its own hands but that could change when the next U.S. President is sworn into office at the start of 2017.
It’s clear Abbott’s focus on the future along the border is looking beyond President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to be in Texas Friday.
When asked if he planned to meet with or speak to President Obama during his visit at the end of the week, Abbott said, “It’s not on my schedule.”
President Obama will be in the state’s capital city to kick off the South by Southwest festival. He is scheduled to appear at part of a Keynote Conversation at SXSW Interactive Friday, March 11.